Bitbucket’s termination of Hg repos made me move to SourceHut, and I’m very happy to see it growing. Like Pinboard and Instapaper, it shows that SaaS doesn’t have to be venture-backed. Thanks a lot, Drew for being so transparent!
Me too, and I wasn’t even using Hg.
Just subscribed. This was a good reminder. Some small feedback: after putting in my CC and paying, I was redirected to some docs page. No confirmation that the payment had gone through, nothing of the sort. And I was logged out, since I hadn’t logged into man.sr.ht, or something.
Thanks for that feedback, I’ll see what I can do about it.
I’ve been using sr.ht since day one and I am very happy with the whole offering. I just recently started using the builds and was pretty impressed with how easy it was to set up. Great work @SirCmpwn 👍
Excited for you Drew! Go for it!
There’s no B2B business that can be built on $2/mo subscriptions. Put on some big boy business pants and Charge More™.
Sourcehut founder here. Sourcehut is B2C, not B2B. Additionally, this is an alpha-quality product and payment is optional. The prices will likely be raised when it graduates to beta, and payment will become mandatory outside of exceptional cases.
The goal is not to maximize profit, but to provide a sustainable service to the community.
Your pricing plan sounds fair but I am talking about sustainability. A business with technical support cannot survive on $2/mo plans, answering a technical support question from that customer will cost you the entire annual revenue from that customer. Perhaps you don’t plan on providing support to anyone but the higher tiers – that’s a respectable approach.
Paid source repositories are used by software professionals, thus B2B. The overlap in the Venn diagram of “hobbyist” and “paid source control” is very small (and with a corresponding $2 budget). 99% of hobbyists will use a free service.
Support on anything other than a best-effort basis is paid and charged separately at B2B prices.
Pinboard is doing ~$250k in yearly revenue on $11 and $25/year subscriptions. I also think you’re vastly underestimating the number of people that pay for tooling for their personal projects.
At that revenue level, Pinboard can’t afford to hire a second FTE to back him up. He can’t take a vacation without the pager. Do you think that’s wise or appropriate? If he ever wanted to walk away after a few years, do you think someone would want to come in and take over the business?
We’re talking about the difference between shoestring budget and sustainable business. A sustainable business is profitable and not a bad thing: it allows you to keep the business running without burning yourself out.
Sourcehut is profitable. Read the financial report. I’ve already hired a FTE to start in Q4 and Sourcehut has become more profitable every quarter. The prices will like be raised when the beta begins and payment will become mandatory for all users. Right now, the business is sustainable enough to keep me working on it, and ratcheting up the profitability is not a priority right now.
Yeah, I did read it. According to my math and assuming you are FT, you are paying yourself less than $10/hr (~$1500 / 160 hrs/mo?). Is that right?
No, I’m paying myself even less than that. But I make money from other sources as well. My personal financial position is sustainable (and net positive).
Sure, I get the point you’re making, but the point I’m trying to make is that there’s definitely “successful” businesses out there at that price point.
Your point was based on a bookmarking site that requires so much less developer and hardware resources to implement than an alternative to Github. A site that probably takes almost nothing to operate in comparison gets by on a small price. What SirCmpwn is doing is much larger in development effort and resources required for users.
So, the example doesn’t tell us anything. It would have to be a sustainable business doing something similar for a long period of time that wasn’t selling its users out or burning through venture capital. That probably would narrow examples down quite a lot. It might also give us an idea what pricing would be like.
Meanwhile, he’s in alpha making money while experimenting and building it. It’s an interesting approach.
The overlap in the Venn diagram of “hobbyist” and “paid source control” is very small
I think the interesting question is: is the overlap large enough to be self-sustaining? Not every every service needs exponential growth, for some it is enough to cover the costs + wages. E.g. SDF has been around for ages and seems to do pretty well.
The goal is not to maximize profit, but to provide a sustainable service to the community.
Something of a tangent:
The idea that business owners have a moral obligation to maximize shareholder value is actually relatively recent, championed by a famous paper in 1976 that showed that under certain condtions, social welfare is maximized when individual executives aim to maximize shareholder value.
The Value of Everything contains a great history of these ideas, along with some compelling criticisms.
Interestingly, the BRT recently renounced shareholder value as a metric in favor of stakeholder value, which is potentially much more in line with businesses like sourcehut and pinboard that aim to maximize value created rather than profit.
(I’m also a subscriber to sourcehut - even though I barely use it I’m more than happy to support anyone trying to build a sustainable open source ecosystem)
Which, incidentally, disqualifies you from calling it “B2C”. Because if your goal is not to maximize profit (or shareholder value) then you’re not, strictly speaking, a “business” :-)
Just to clarify, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it!
I think it makes me not a capitalist, but still qualifies as a business.
Since we’re in the company of word-mincing engineers who believe that qualifications must be in place before anybody can say whether a thing is or is not a business or possesses the attribute of being “B2C,” lets mince more words.
A capitalist is not someone who desires the suffering of their peons, in and of itself.
A capitalist, sensu strictu, is someone who owns the means of production.
Things touched by the invisible hand are divided into capital, rent, and labor.
Labor means what it appears to mean.
Rent means, in addition to the rent that you pay for, the land itself, if you are a landowner.
Capital is everything else.
When Groucho Marx says, “Seize the means of production!” those means are synonymous with capital: the tooling, the machinery, the raw material and energy, AND the finances.
So, sorry, you’re still a capitalist, barring further free-as-in-freedom philosophizing of the memetically replicating Turing’s Cathedral of the virus of the primordial thought-stuff of software. Maybe m4 is actually a semiconscious code-being and nobody owns it, and therefore it’s not an instrument of capital and therefore you’re not a capitalist (IDK if autoconf is one of sr.ht’s dependencies but you see what I’m getting at).
However, I happily admit you’re neither a capitalist swine nor a capitalist dog, and I think it is this sense of capitalist that you thought you weren’t, and if so, I’m happy to confirm that.
You’re writing like almost everything written on capitalism doesn’t encourage accumulation of capital. At least in U.S., wealth maximization is implied when people mention that word. Otherwise, we’d just call it business or business ownership. He’s someone with capital seeking some profit but not a capitalist aiming for maximal capital. What he’s doing is closer to public-benefit corporations and non-profits practicing utilitarianism.
To be fair, he did start the post saying he was going to be extra pedantic. And it was an amusing read in that context.
Yes, and in the three hundred intervening years between now and the division of the economy into the three things I mentioned, which, by the way, I have precisely and accurately represented, there has been some linguistic drift.
There have also been some important historical events like the invention of liberalism, communism, Baha’ism, the computer, and the U.S. itself. And gravity and the “circulation of the blood” model of uh heartbeats. Also all businesses as incorporated in the legal sense, since they had to come up with said legal sense for purposes of taxation, and that was antedated by the formation of the nation state, since the idea of capital is kinda literally the idea of economics, which has to do with capital like CPUs have to do with registers. Also capitalization – but LiTeRaL CaPiTaLiZaTiOn (since English has German roots and they capitalize everything, and creative spelling died out with universal literacy, cf. any really old book, like, not-so-random example, On The Wealth Of Nations, by an old white man – unpopular these days, but nobody was very progressive at the time – who had the distinctions of being absentminded and Scottish, wrote during the Scottish Enlightentment, cerca 1700-1750 IIRC & -ish, and once accidentally forgot to get off the train and crossed into England, or something like that). But we’re getting off-topic.
You’re arguing that capitalists not seeking to maximize profit are no such thing. Correct?
I’m arguing that he is running a business, and damn if it’s a dirty thing because it’s really not, it’s the only way anything ever gets done anyhow. I am not slinging mud at DDV or sr.ht, so if you hear or see that in my post it’s badly written.
This whole discussion is about whether Drew should exploit the living daylights out of his users, and I think anyone who reads this page can easily conclude that the users hereabouts strongly desire to be exploited, since there is no small amount of public support of sr.ht. Much of this fundraising discussion has been Drew pumping the brakes to avoid some trigger-happy idea of Successful Business Productivity (TM) (C) (R) (Patent Pending) being allowed to replace the genuine sustainoblah of the communoblah (cf. my other, equally eloquent, cranial emissions on this amazingly exciting matter, both right around here).
You can say that Sourcehut is like Amtrak, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or something else, but really it is a VCS. I think to really be infrastructural and fundamental in the utility-as-in-Monopoly-the-board-game sense (as opposed to the utility-as-in-we-all-scream-for-ice-cream sense) you need to have back-room deals and very pretentious lovers and Nancy Pelosi’s rubber stamp and everything else.
Maybe it is different with technology in that you don’t need the backing of a phat Carnegie-level kingpin to even begin and it can grow over time to be like Amtrak. Certainly it is different with FOSS, and whether it can grow is a yuge and bigly test of the mettle, both of the founder and of the community, especially when the main considerations are of the sustainoblah and so forth. Hopefully Drew DeVault hasn’t got friends who’ve been secretly meeting with Jeremy Epstein or software freedom is really going down the tubes. :P
So it is clear that wealth maximization is beside the point – in fact, it’s more finely graduated than a cylinder, in Sourcehut’s case, apparently intentionally.
When discussing the implications of words, it is important to discuss what they imply for whom. Well I dunno if it always is, but it is now, dang it! Lenin said, when somebody had occasion to invoke freedom, and I’m always anti-Lenin in praxis but never in rhetoric, “freedom for whom? – to do what?” Because it is the answer to that question that is the same as the answer to the question of “Why?” Some postmodern people think that freedom is a byword for “rich people walking all over poor people,” and there is a similar logic there. I happen to disagree, but I get their point, and when I haven’t eaten for a long time I too get concerned that maybe it’s a war of all against all, and freedom is only when the armies are marching towards Those People Over There. Then I have some pineapple salsa, and in a half an hour critical pathways have been refueled with primordial glucose, and I can get behind the communoblah and say the Pledge of Allegiance and am overcome with relief and gratitude that … never mind. Freedom is tricky. We’re working on it. I am pro-freedom, btw. But it’s beside the point.
Sourcehut is a niche business. Is it still a business?
Sourcehut isn’t maximizing capital. Is it still an enterprise?
Not treating users like customers (or the other way around). Still used/consumed?
Not treating unthinking money-spenders like hogs in a hog confinement or rubes in a carnival. Still a subscription model? Still important to have good marketing?
The answers, respectively, are Yes; Yes; Yes/Yes, Yes and Yes.
So, back to the original thing, sorry it took so long: Does a capitalist inherently seek maximal capital?
The question is honestly intractable. YMMV.
I admit that I am using the term capitalist wrongly, in the sense that you, nickpsecurity, read it, and I even concede that the majority of people or even 99% of people correctly “mis-“read my (actual:) misstatement in that regard. The question isn’t intractable at all.
But the fact is, in your very simple (totally unstated, I’m guessing here) model of capitalists, 99%ers, and-small-bands-of-rapidly-iterating-capital-owning-programmers, well, the programmers just don’t fit in. They are like the “party vanguard” in Leninism (the elite stormtroopers of ideological purity, leading the huddled masses to the future), or the petit-bourgeois (read: upper-middle-class merchant-y types) in Marx, of whom I heard he once said, “Yeah, there’s gonna be some very very special ones of this class in my logical class warfare structure, and they’re gonna be super impt, since they’re gonna speak the lang of the elite and walk amongst the common folk or whatnot” and you know he was talking about himself, because he came from a bougie-in-the-modern-sense background but was all obsessed with that stuff you’ve heard about.
A system of privates business and business ownership only becomes capitalism when it’s sufficiently ruthless? I don’t think I know people who use capitalism that way.
Most of the richest companies screw over their stakeholders in many ways, the founders/owners of most businesses take most of the money others generate, and so on. Makes me think profit maximization often requires ruthlessness since it forces the maximizer to eventually do harmful things to increase revenue or lower costs.
Arguing that all businesses have to maximize profit in order to qualify as a business is a pretty bizarre stance to take. I can decide to run my company at a loss and still qualify as a business.
Arguing that, “arguing that all businesses have to maximize profit [sic] is a pretty bizarre stance to take,” is itself a pretty bizarre stance to take, since the first arguer was apparently asserting the invalidity of “B2C,” an appellation that honestly presupposes a big ol’ distinction between the Bs and the Cs, whereas a sustainable blah to the communoblah is a bit more of a Blah2Blah, since the purely theoretically profit-maximizing logic of “either you’re going From Business and To Consumer or you’re a nothingburger” no longer holds.
If you really wanted to point out something in the offending comment that was truly bizarre, instead of merely pedantic, you could have pointed out that Sourcehut has no shareholders for whom to maximize the value.
Instead you claimed that WeWork is a business, but that was never in dispute, thus, the bizarreness redoundeth upon ye.
I will say that despite what nickpsecurity had to say, the Pinboard comment seems to have generated some useful discussion.
You might be confused about businesses vs. public corporations vs. capitalism etc.
You don’t have to try to be a paperclip maximizer just because all your friends are doing it.
You don’t have to be a utility-maximizing agency-possessing actor in a space of probability vectors collapsed by intentions that precede any instruments ability to objectively measure intent by precisely the interval sustained by one’s observation of others just because all your friends are watching Nike commercials with you in a panopticon of meaningless exhortation to “Just do it” with attractive and scantily-clad 10-foot-tall athletes filling every screen.
JUST KIDDING YOU HAVE TO ;D
How did they give hundreds of millions of dollars from their business if they weren’t a business? Or maybe just a business with a different focus?
Random-ish example whose products I enjoyed marked down or on sale. Recently Pineapple Salsa. The -ish part is there since delicious products do bias my coverage sometimes. :)
I do want some pineapple salsa though, now that you mention it. How did it get so late writing unnecessary replies to unnecessary posts?
His point is that B2C, where instead of Business and Consumer you’re in an Imaginary and Dreamy Sustainable Community of Cocreators, is not a B2C but rather a IaDSCoC2IaDSCoC or whatever. see my other post. He is not saying Newman’s Own doesn’t exist, he’s saying Free Software in Drew DeVault’s conception of what that means and stands for and whatever is not, like, a cookie-cutter example of a B2C. Geez.
Not everything has to be a hockey stick. Sometimes just making a living is enough.
Sometimes just making a living is enough
Sometimes just making a living is enough
but hes not though, is he. $1000 a month is not enough where I live.
Note that for my own part, my income comes from more sources than just Sourcehut. I have a breakdown here:
And this is missing income from my new GitHub sponsors account, which is sitting at $25/mo right now. I also make money from occasional consulting on my various open source projects, mainly Wayland. I make a comfortable living.
Well, he seems to be about to hire someone else, so it seems to be enough for him.
That’s very important. Many people aren’t motivated by money. They have a goal that they want to hit, are comfortable with, whatever. Then, past that, they’re willing to overlook potential revenue to do something that matters to them.
SirCmpwn seems so in that camp on top of what he says is a comfortable living. He’s willing to pass on some material opportunities to build things he believes in that might help other people, too. I respect that. Whether folks agree or not, it would help them to realize such people exist and factor it into their economic theories.
This is the kind of transparency that I aspire to.
Sourcehut is like my ideal corporation. This is almost exactly how I’ve fantasized my own company to be if it became successful. Thanks for the inspiration!
$640.00/mo Philadelphia datacenter lease
$129/qtr San Francisco datacenter lease
@SirCmpwn What sort of hardware is Sourcehut running on? Quite a difference between the two leases; the SF lease is just for offsite backup?
The SF lease is just a single backup server, yeah. In Philadelphia I have a 2/3rds full half rack which runs most of Sourcehut.
I just subscribed and will slowly port my repos, builds & issues over to Sourcehut.
Drew, I think your philosophy (and that of sr.ht) is deeply inspiring, thank you.
This is awesome to read.
It’s not an offering for me (I’ve never paid for a personal account on github either because I don’t need it) - but I’m glad that it exists for people who want an alternative and that it can be done in a sustainable way.